Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Mania

I admit it. I am a sucker for the whole “New Year” hype that surrounds January 1.

I make resolutions each year, believing that THIS year I will (pick one): loose weight; exercise more; save money; simplify my life; write more; etc, etc, etc.

For a few years, I made my family write down three resolutions and place them in their stockings as we packed up our decorations on New Year’s Day. The plan was to read our notes the following Christmas, when we pulled out the stockings, and see if we had accomplished our goals. (The kids actually enjoyed this at first, but then, when they hit their teen years, it became “lame,” along with pretty much everything else I suggested!)

I look forward to spending the week between Christmas and New Year’s on my couch, wrapped in a blanket, watching the countless year-in-review programs on TV, while reading the numerous “New Year, New You” articles in magazines, pondering how I too will improve myself.

I can’t wait to sit down at the kitchen table on December 26 with my new “At-a-Glance” calendar I receive for Christmas every year (yes, I still use a wall calendar!) and fill in the empty blocks with kid’s schedules, family birthdays and various appointments for the next year.

This task often takes me a few hours, as I flip through the previous 11 calendar pages and reflect on the various events and milestones that occurred in our lives.

I can often be heard muttering such phrases as “Remember when…” or “That was just last year?” or “Can you believe…” to anyone who happens to wander by.

I am not a big fan of New Year’s Eve however for many reasons (not the least of which is that we never really have any plans). I tend to become a bit teary-eyed and nostalgic, waxing poetic to anyone who will listen about another year having gone by in my life that I will never get back (and that’s before I hit the champagne).

I then move on to the year ahead, and contemplate how my life will change and who may or may not be here next December 31 (myself included).

(It just occurred to me why we may never have any plans on New Year’s Eve. I am a bundle of fun, aren’t I?)

January 1 is the start of a new year, whether you celebrate it with a list of resolutions, a blank calendar or simply a hangover. Wishing all a year of good health, peace and contentment.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Story of the Blue Lights

Once upon a time, in a neighborhood not far from yours, lived a beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl who loved to laugh and play with her sisters. She went to school, played dress-up with her friends, and ran around the neighborhood like any other little girl.

One sad day, this precious little girl was diagnosed with a terrible disease that slowly robbed her of her ability to walk, to talk, and to see, but it never robbed her, or her family, of the sparkle in those pretty blue eyes or her sweet smile.

Unfortunately, on a warm, sunny, summer day, this beautiful angel was taken from her friends and family. God, it was decided, needed a new angel in Heaven.

Just a few months later, while wandering the neighborhood, a boy came upon the father of this new angel. The father was putting up blue Christmas lights on his house.

“Why blue?” asked the curious boy.

“Well,” explained the Dad, “Blue was our angel’s favorite color, so I’m putting these lights up so that when she looks down from Heaven, she’ll know we’re thinking of her.”

Now, most boys would smile and nod, and run off to play, putting this family, and the blue lights out of their mind, but not this thoughtful little boy. He decided to take his allowance and buy blue lights for not only his family, but a few other families in the neighborhood as well. He wanted to make sure that our angel knew that the whole neighborhood was thinking of her.

One by one, blue lights began popping up on neighbors’ homes, wrapped around tree branches and porch columns, and hanging from light posts and decorative ornaments.

It’s been quite a few years since this angel went to Heaven, and the little boy is now a young man in college, yet the blue lights continue. New families have moved into the neighborhood, and while they’ve never had the pleasure of meeting the blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl, they do know the family she left behind. And in her memory, and in support of this brave, courageous family, they too hang blue lights.

So this Christmas season, as you drive around with your family looking at holiday decorations, when you see blue lights, remember our angel, and say a prayer for her, and her family.

And be thankful for the angels in your life.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Coming to terms with the "M" word

I’ve had a middle-age crisis recently – actually middle-age crises (don’t ask me how long it took to figure out the plural of crisis).

Anyway, the end result of it all is that I think I’ve actually come to terms with the fact that I am, perhaps, approaching Middle Age.

When this horrible thought first raised it’s unsettling head a few months ago, I was aghast: someone with whom I graduated high school, (and therefore was the same age), mentioned on Facebook that he was still in pretty good shape, considering he was middle-aged.

I read that comment and was immediately taken aback. I wasn’t middle-aged, was I? Middle-aged, to me, was a graying, heavy-set woman wearing Mom jeans and glasses with kids in college and a mortgage to pay. I’m a blonde! (And I’m sticking with that statement, no matter what my hairdresser says!)

Could I really be middle-aged? Of course my family was no help. And I quote my husband here, “What, you think you’re going to live to be 100? Of course you’re middle aged!”

According to Wikipedia, middle age is the period of age “beyond young adulthood but before the onset of old age; usually considered to occur between the ages of 40 and 60.” No help there.

They go further by explaining what middle age looks like: “Middle-aged adults often show visible signs of aging such as loss of skin elasticity and graying of the hair. Physical fitness usually wanes, with a 10-20 lb accumulation of body fat; strength and flexibility also decrease.”

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Is it any wonder I am in denial?

Just to drill the nail into the coffin, I had a conversation with my sister the other night that I can clearly remember my Grandmother having with her sister.

“How did you make out today with your Doctor’s appointments?”

Really, we’re discussing doctor’s appointments?

I take full responsibility for this. Recently, I have decided to take better care of my health (remember that whole yoga kick I was on) and I made a few appointments with various doctor’s for some over-due check-ups.

In the past, I breezed through these and was on my way with barely a backward glance. Imagine my surprise when this time, I received not one but two callbacks saying they wanted to do some further tests, “just to be safe.”

Thankfully, everything came back okay, but it has been a stressful few weeks. I have spent more time in waiting rooms and doctor’s offices getting poked, pinched and prodded than I care to anytime in the near future.

Hence, the previously mentioned phone call!

What have I learned from all this? Wear suntan lotion on all parts of your body; stay up-to-date with your mammograms, and never look up the word “middle age” on Wikipedia!

So yes, I guess I am middle-aged. There, I said it. (And I mean it, I think!)

But that doesn’t mean I’m still not aiming for 100!

Monday, October 10, 2011


I am Anti-E-Book, and proud of it!

Perhaps that makes me old-fashioned, but hey, I was that already so I don’t really care.

If I had to choose between a book and a computer, I would always take the book. I like the feel of a book in my hands as I turn the pages. I like to see how thick/thin a book is and wonder at its size. I like the feeling of accomplishment I get when I glance at the book on my nightstand and see my bookmark nestled in the pages. I love the smell of a new book, and the musty smell of old book stores and libraries.

Oh I know the arguments: the Kindle is lighter, the Nook is easier to carry/pack on trips; the e-books are less expensive.

I say hogwash. I will not to be brainwashed.

Why? You can’t collect e-books and display them on your bookshelves. You can’t get them autographed by the author.

Books don’t require batteries – one of the few items left in today’s world that don’t need to be charged, updated or plugged in.

I recently took my Girl Scout Troop on a camping trip. I told them they weren’t allowed to bring any electronics with them. I mentioned they could bring balls, playing cards and a book. Imagine my surprise when the first question I got was, “What about my Kindle?”

Really? What do I say to that? Doesn’t that seem to defeat the purpose of “getting back to nature”? (By the way, I told them “No Kindles” – find a good old-fashioned book!)

And what about our babies? One of my favorite pastimes with my children when they were younger was to sit them on my lap in their rocking chair in their rooms and read to them. Do parents today whip out their Kindle to read Good Night Moon? How exactly does a picture book translate onto an I-Pad? No wait, I don’t want to know.

You can’t cuddle up with a Kindle.

I-Pad? I don’t think so!

Just say “NO” to the Nook.

And I’m not alone. I recently joined the “Official Anti-Kindle Group” on Facebook. And YouTube has an Anti-E-Book Campaign (

I’ll say it again: I am Anti-E-book, and proud of it! Won’t you join me?

Friday, October 7, 2011


I attended a meeting recently with about 30 or so other parents, mostly moms. The organization that ran the meeting uses an acronym. (I won’t mention the name of the organization because I don’t want to diminish the good intentions of these wonderful women who are trying to rally parents for a common good.) Its goal is to bring parents and the community together to discuss how they can work jointly to guide and parent today’s tweens and teens in this new, technology-driven world.

It was advertised as an informal get together where parents can talk freely and share their concerns about the many difficult issues our kids face in today’s world: drinking, sex, drugs, social networking, etc.

I had hoped to walk away from the two-hour discussion feeling inspired. I had hoped to learn what other parents were doing to address these difficult issues in their homes. I had hoped to feel a little better about the future.

Unfortunately, my hopes were crushed.

It wasn’t the organizers fault. It wasn’t the parents’ fault. It is simply the world in which we live in, or, to quote one of my favorite sayings: It is what it is.

Today’s generation of teens and tweens face many of the same issues that we faced when we were growing up: drinking, drugs, sex, etc. There is nothing new here. Unfortunately, when you add technology to the mix – cell phones, texting, Facebook, Twitter - things become a little more difficult.

There was one brave police officer at the meeting, willing to face and attempt to answer over two dozen frantic mothers’ questions. As he explained it, the biggest issue we are dealing with concerning today’s teens is texting - this immediate communication that can reach dozens of teens in minutes.

There were mothers there at all stages of life - some had children in middle school, just entering the fray; others in high school, in the midst of it; while others had a mix of college, high school and even middle school children (that would be me).

The comments I heard ranged from “All kids drink; accept it.” to “I read every text message my child sends out” to “Can’t we just ban kids from Facebook, texting and cell phones?”

Really? There has to be a happy medium here, doesn’t there?

Shouldn’t we give our kids some rope, some freedom? Must we read all their inbox messages and monitor all their texts?

My parents didn’t know half of what I did (Thank God!) and I survived. Do we, as parents, know too much of what is going on in our kids’ lives? Or is there no such thing as knowing too much when it comes to our children?

While I commend this group’s vision and their goals, I have to say I won’t be going back to any more meetings. Through the years, I’ve gathered a rather good support group made up of family and friends with similar ideals and beliefs whom I look to when I have questions.

And, while we may not always get it right, we are always willing to listen and change and encourage each other as we work our way through this battleground of teenage life.

And I’m thinking of giving us our own acronym: STOP – Surviving Teens and Overreacting Parents!

Care to join us?

Monday, September 26, 2011


"Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It's a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write."
(Paul Rudnick)

Well, it’s four in the morning, and here I am.

Procrastination; writer’s block; laziness; call it what you may – I’ve experienced them all. That, coupled with self-doubt, (the curse of creativity, I’m told), can be crippling.

And just when I think I wasn’t meant to be a writer - that perhaps I need to focus my time on something else - I get a sign. Sometimes it’s internal – a feeling I get that Rudnick describes, urging me to write – and sometimes it’s external – someone reads one of my blogs for the first time and calls me immediately to tell me how much they enjoy my writing.

And then, I sit down again, staring at this blinking cursor, and loose myself in words for a few hours. And I feel better.

Writing isn’t always easy, and it’s not always pretty, but it is always satisfying. Anne Lamott describes is perfectly:

“Even if only the people in your writing group read your stories, even if you only wrote your story so that one day your children would know what life was like when you were a child… still, to have written your version is an honorable thing to have done. Against all odds, you have put it down on paper so that it won’t be lost. And who knows? Maybe what you’ve written will help others, will be a small part of the solution.”

So I will continue to blog, even if it is just for myself.

And for those who follow me, I thank you. I’ve been told I need to figure out a way to advertise my blog better. (I’m not sure if those telling me this are just being nice, of if they really mean it, but I’m focusing on the positive these days and going with the latter!)

I have bought a book – Google Blogger for Dummies (I won’t repeat what my family has read into that title) – and signed up for a class, “Blogging for Business and Fun” with the hopes of learning more.

If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to comment. If you would like to find out when I submit a new post but aren’t signed up as a follower – sign up dammit!

Just kidding! While it is relatively easy to create a Google account and become a follower, (if I did it, anyone can) you can also email me and I will keep you updated.

And now, on with the show…again!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Things I Need to Do:

Clean the cabinets
Organize my files
Clean the bathrooms
Clean out the basement
Put away our summer clothes
Weed our garden (Oh fine, who am I kidding? I mean weed the whole yard!)
Check in with my son and make sure he really is attending classes at college
Read my book club book
Tackle my sewing/mending pile (although by now, my kids have outgrown the shorts and shirts that need mending, so maybe I can cross this off my list!)
Update my calendar/address book/phone for a new school year
Walk the dogs
Pay the bills
Due the laundry
Go food shopping
Change the sheets
Browse the Internet
Think of things I need to do besides...

How will I do?
Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ode to Elementary School

It’s almost over. After 15 years, and two different schools, I will be saying goodbye to the elementary school.

It’s been a long journey, filled with ups and downs, twists and turns. When we started, back in 1996, we were a family of just four, with a newborn daughter and a lot less gray hair.

I was entering my third decade of life, and couldn’t imagine how my son would find his way off the school bus and to his kindergarten class without me. (In hindsight, I realize it would be close to impossible for him to get lost, since you could see his classroom from the bus!)

I worried about those “older” 5th graders corrupting my innocent son with their salty language. I questioned the teachers, guidance counselors and anyone else who would listen on everything from dress code to homework.

Then, just as I was growing comfortable with my surroundings, a wrench was thrown into the plans; a new school opened, and we were redistricted.

It was September 2001, and my son was now a 5th grader. He would accompany my daughter, who was entering kindergarten, on the bus and protect her from his big, bad friends, only at a totally different school.

As predicted by teachers and administrators, he was fine with the change. I wasn’t. A new school meant new teachers, new rules, new office staff, new hallways, new everything. How would I adjust?

Luckily, we were blessed with a beautiful building, an understanding principal and a great group of teachers. I became more comfortable, more relaxed. She would be fine; the school wasn’t that big; homework got done; dress code was easy. The journey continued.

Then, finally, in 2005, I sent my youngest off on that big yellow bus. The birds were singing and the stores were beckoning. Freedom was within my reach.

I was an old pro by then, with the emphasis on “old.” I remember her kindergarten Open House. It was the same night as my son’s Open House at the High School. My husband and I split responsibilities: he headed to the high school, and I took the elementary school.

It wasn’t easy. As I sat through questions like “Do they get served fruit every day?” and “ What if they can only write half of their name?”, he was listening to discussions on drinking and college prep classes.

The times were changing – or perhaps I was changing. I was becoming disillusioned with the many rules (really, they can’t touch the walls at all while walking down the hallways?) and tired of the many fundraisers (there’s only so much wrapping paper one household can use!)

It was time to move on. With one child in college and one child in high school, I feel very old when I walk the halls these days. I look at some of these parents and realize I could very well be their mother.

I have spent 15 years standing at our neighborhood bus stop, in rain, sun, sleet and snow; 15 years studying thousands of words in those Spelling Connections books; 15 years sitting in those tiny chairs listening to well-meaning teachers tell me how to raise my child. I am ready to move on – as is my daughter.

So now, in three short weeks, we will officially be leaving Elementary School. No more recorder concerts, no more winter carnivals, no more pumpkin decorating nights – it’s all over. This part of the journey is ending.

The Kopp family is leaving elementary school. We bid it a fond farewell and a hearty thank you. Thank you for the care, the love and the memories. We’re moving on. Our journey continues…

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Breathing - It's harder than it looks!

“Breathe; deep breathes; breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Breathing is the key to yoga.”

If that’s true, I’m in trouble.

I started my first yoga class the other day. I decided it was time to do something about this shape I’m in, or not in, as the case may be.

In the past (read “before I hit 40”), I was in relatively good shape. I could eat what I wanted, exercise when I wanted, and still fit into those size ** jeans. Life was good.

That changed a few years ago – no need to say how long. Suddenly, it was a little harder to stay in the shape I had grown accustomed to. But I didn’t worry. I would eat my way through winter, then eventually disgust myself enough to stop eating and start exercising again. I would loose those 5 or 6 pounds and all was good in time for bathing suit season. I was no Sport Illustrated model, but I didn’t totally embarrass myself at the beach.

When did that stop? I’m not exactly sure, but it has. I’m eating, more than normal, and frustrated with my actions, and myself, yet never enough to actually STOP munching.

I decided to take charge of my life. I needed a change. I wanted to slow down and regain control of my life and my body. (Can you tell I’ve been reading a few self-help articles?)

Enter yoga. I’ve taken a few beginner classes in the past and enjoyed them. I found a beginner’s class (easier said than done, trust me) at our local yoga studio and signed up.

Seventy-five minutes a day, twice a week, I would sweat my self into better shape, mentally and physically, even if it killed me. Turns out, it just may.

Wandering into the first class, trying to look casual, I was hit by a wall of heat. I soon discovered that 88 degrees and 50% humidity are the “ideal” conditions for one to practice yoga. (If the poses don’t make me loose weight, I’m assuming the fat will melt off me.)

I was encouraged by the look of the group surrounding me. Other than the 90-pound waif in front of me, who turned out to be the YTT (Yoga, Teacher Training – basically she was our model that the teacher used to show us the poses) the rest of the students looked like me – out of shape, nervous, and sweating. Things were looking up.

We spent the first few minutes getting to know each other, as the teacher explained what we were in for these next few weeks. She informed us that this was a beginner’s class, designed to ease us into the wonderful world of yoga. She wouldn’t push us and we were to forget what we couldn’t do and concentrate on what we could do. This was getting better and better.

I knew I wasn’t in shape, but at the same time, I knew I couldn’t possibly be the worst student in the class. (I had pegged the round, gray-haired Grandma in the corner for that title.) I was feeling good and ready to start the downward facing dog (the only position I could remember from past classes.)

The first pose was a little challenging, but I had it. But boy, it was getting warmer and warmer in that room. Unfortunately, I had forgotten water, but hey, the class was only 75 minutes, what could go wrong?

Moving on to the second pose, I realized I might be in a bit of trouble. The pose was fine, but they kept talking about our breathing. “Breathe in through the nose; hold your breath; breathe out through your mouth. Louder. Let me hear those breathes.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but as soon as someone asks me to breathe, I realize I have no idea how to breathe: I can’t catch my breath; I can’t hold my breath; I can’t take a breath.

And man, it was really hot in that studio. When I started to wobble a bit, I realized I needed to get out of there and get some water. On my way out, I glanced at Grandma over there in the corner, figuring I would see her sitting this pose out. Damn if Grandma didn’t look pretty good. What the heck?

The lobby felt like an icebox, and nothing ever felt so wonderful. I stumbled over to the water cooler, and attempted to fill a cup of water, smiling at the receptionist as I passed. That was better. Now I would be fine.

I returned to the studio as the group was finishing their second pose (I hadn’t missed anything? Really?) Moving on, we began our third pose: the runner’s lunge. At least this had us somewhat on the ground. I was doing well, until they brought up that breathing again.

“Hold your breath; hold it; feel it in your lungs; let it out, slowly.” Uh oh… I knew I was in trouble when those little black spots started appearing before my eyes. I had a choice: Go down and embarrass myself or climb over Grandma again and get out on my own two feet.

I chose the latter, muttering something about water again, and made it to the lobby and that blessedly cool air. By now, the receptionist wasn’t smiling. After all, I was using up all their cups and water. I didn’t care. I wandered around, pretending to be interested in the posters hung around the room, and tried to look as nonchalant as possible.

When I returned to the room, I just knew the class had to be over. For God’s sake, how many poses were we supposed to learn in one class? When I heard the teacher tell the class we were “already on the last pose of the day,” I almost cried.

Luckily, this pose was much easier – something about standing on our toes. And, then, darn if our time wasn’t up. One class down, only seven to go.

All in all, I think that went pretty well. If it wasn’t for the heat and the breathing, I know I would have kicked yoga butt. (Driving home, I realized that my breakfast of brownies and diet coke probably didn’t help my performance much either.)

But I’m not giving up. I invested in a gallon-sized water bottle, and I purchased some new, sleeve-less shirts and shorts.

Watch out Grandma!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Parenthood - It Ain't Easy

My daughter just went to the Freshman Semi-Formal Dance at her high school. I’m not sure who was more agitated by the whole experience - her, or us.

For those who haven’t had the “pleasure” of experiencing a high school dance from a parent’s perspective, there are a few new wrinkles that weren’t there, at least when I went to school.

The event can be broken down into four categories: the date; the dress; the contract; and finally, the dance itself.

First, there is THE DATE:

There is a tradition at our local high school that the freshmen ask the upperclassmen to their dance. I’m not sure who exactly started this tradition, but it certainly wasn’t the parents of a freshman girl.

When my son went through this, I was a wreck. He asked the sister of a girl in his Math class, whom I didn’t know. She was, of course, a senior who was driving the group (2 other freshman boys and their senior dates.)

I did what any overly -protective mother would do when her firstborn was going out – called the parents. To this mom’s credit, she was very nice and completely understood (she said. I’m sure she’s still talking about me). She told me her daughter was a very good driver and thanked me for calling.

The girl was very nice, and my son had a good time. At the end of the night, I blessed myself and thought, “Good, one child down, two to go.“

My husband was very calm about the whole night. When I reminded him that in a few years, his daughter would be going through this, his exact response was “over my dead body.”

Well, that day has come and he, predictably, was anything but calm. He tried talking her out of it (I believe there was the promise of a trip involved in the negotiating) to no avail.

She asked a (Senior) boy whose family we have known for years. In fact, when they were 4 and 8, his Mom and I joked, “wouldn’t it be funny if she took him to the Freshman Dance?” Who knew time would fly?

The morning of the big dance, my husband woke up with a headache, complaining that this was the day he had been dreading for 8 years. (Luckily the boy was a very good sport and put up with the ribbing he got from both my son and my husband.)

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Now that we have the date, procured in November for a February dance, we had to concentrate on THE DRESS:

After searching the King of Prussia Mall (both floors and all 4 wings) and coming up empty handed, we moved on to the local strip malls. (I don’t know why the word “strip” makes me giggle at this point. Perhaps it’s because of the dresses I saw while shopping; you get the point.)

If you haven’t been shopping for a dress for a 14-year-old recently, let me tell you, it isn’t for the faint of heart – or a mother. Here are some of the conversations we had:

“Gee Sweetie, isn’t that a little short?” (said in a tone of voice I hoped didn't betray my shock!)

To which Sweetie replied: “Oh no, it’s almost down to my fingertips.” (This is the rule in the high school handbook: shorts and dresses must be “as long as where the fingertips rest when the arms are hanging at the student’s side.” In the teen fashion world, longer than that is unheard of).

I didn’t even bother to point out to her that she was dropping her shoulders to make her fingers come down further than they were. I simply suggested we “keep looking.”

Next shop: “How about this one?” Sweetie asks.

Now, I know my response wasn’t correct, but I simply couldn’t help it.

“Isn’t that a shirt?” I replied, perhaps a little loudly.

Sweetie didn’t even dignify that with a response – just a roll of the eyes and a toss of the head. Oh well, onward.

I tried texting my husband, hoping he could give me some encouragement. He simply told me to keep looking and not come home without one. (He didn’t want to deal with the tears, from either of us, if we came home sans dress.)

Finally, 2 dresses, 4 fights, 3 shopping trips and countless tears later, we found the dress. She loved it (black, sequined and short) and I loved it (two straps, covered everything it needed to cover, and was actually down to her fingertip nails!)

So, we have the date, we have the dress, we’re good to go, right?

Of course not! Last year, after much debate and countless threats, our school had enough of the dirty dancing that goes on at these dances and officially adopted THE DANCE CONTRACT:

Ahh, the contract… A simple piece of paper that had my husband break out into a sweat and made me blush.

Here are a few of the highlights:

-Every dancer must remain in the vertical position. Students are not permitted to bend over and hands may not rest on the knees or be placed on the floor. (Okay, that was the first rule listed, and it took me a good 5 minutes to comprehend and picture what she wasn’t allowed to do.)
-Any mimicking of sexual acts is not permitted. (Good to know.)
-Front-to-back touching or grinding of genital areas to buttocks is not permitted. (Okay, this one really had me turning red. I haven’t read that many suggestive words in one sentence since the last Harlequin romance book I read in college!)
-Students are not permitted to straddle legs or hips. (This isn’t your mother’s dance, that’s for sure.)
-Hands should be visible at all times and should remain on shoulders or waists only. (I don’t want to think where else they may be!)

My husband was so rattled by the whole thing, he signed it in the wrong place not once, but twice. At least they know we really read it.

So, we have a date, we found a dress, we signed the contract and the big day had arrived. I started to breathe a sigh of relief. That was my final mistake.

Driving to pick up the boutonniere hours before the dance, I got that question that every mom dreads.

Oh no, not that one, thank God! She wanted to know how to blow into a breathalyzer. Funny, but I didn’t know the answer to that one. They had been threatening to enforce the breathalyzers at the dances for years, and they had finally done it.

And I’m happy they did. Really. It’s just hard to comprehend that your 14-year-old daughter can now say she has been “breathalyzed”.

“You don’t really blow into it,” she answered, when I questioned the sanitation of it all the next day. “They ask you a question and you talk into it. It’s not hard!”

“It’s not hard.” Oh, but it is, I wanted to shout at her. It is hard. It’s hard to admit that your 14 year old is, in so many ways, much more grown up than you ever were at that age. And it’s hard to be okay with that. It’s hard to send her out into this crazy world and trust she will come back the same 14 year old you have tried to raise.

It’s hard to parent in today’s reality-obsessed world where anything goes. It’s hard to listen to what she says and see what she sees and not criticize and reprimand all the time. It’s hard to send her to a dance with an 18-year-old boy and not follow them.

It’s hard to listen to her tell you all about it, when you really just want to shout, “Yes! She’s home, safe and in one piece! She’s under my roof again.”

It’s just hard.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Who is Craig, and how did he get his own list? (And other mindless questions that run through my head at inappropriate times.)

Who is Craig and why does he have his own list?

Why does my hair always look nice the day I am scheduled to get it cut?

Why do I close the door when using the bathroom, even though I’m alone in my house?

Why do my kids get sick when I have plans?

Why is my house dustier than any of my friends’ and neighbors’ houses?

What mom has her own “mom cave,” and how do I get one?

Are my children the only average children in the world?

Who really thinks low-rise jeans are comfortable?

Is it wrong to talk on the phone while using the bathroom?

Why do I say “No problem” when I mean “What, are you crazy?”?

Why do I have to look behind every shower curtain before I go to the bathroom? (And as a follow up, what would I do if someone was actually standing there?)

Am I the only person who doesn’t truly understand pi? And doesn’t care?

Who reads the 693-page manual that comes with the TI 84 plus calculator that my son was required to have in high school?

Who is the voice on my GPS? And how do I get that job?

How did Snooki get a book on the NY Times Bestseller List?

Where should I look while my dog is “doing her business” – at her, or away? (Before I scoop, of course!)

Am I the only mother who hates the question “What’s for dinner?”?

Why do I feel the need to explain to telemarketers why I cannot buy what they are selling?

And the biggest question of all…

Why can’t I win the lottery?

Monday, January 31, 2011

My Life in 50 Words

I got to thinking about my life recently, and how I would describe it. (With close to two feet of snow on the ground, it was better than thinking about shoveling, or worse yet, the nearly 2 months of winter ahead!) What would I say about myself? How would I recount my life; my experiences; my family?

From there, my mind wandered, as it often does these days. Could I, I wondered, describe my life in 100 words? How about 50 words? What would I say? What characteristics, memories and attributes would I deem important enough to include in those few sentences?

I started a list: hometown; siblings; political party; schools; likes, dislikes. I pondered the importance of whether or not someone should know that I love scary movies and hate science fiction.

When finished, I discovered my life could be written rather easily in 167 words. I had to be more selective. What did I really want people to know about me?

So I whittled it down, little by little until… Success!

My Life in 50 Words:

I was born in October 1966, the youngest of six children.
I attended 16 years of Catholic schools.
I have been married for 21 years and have 3 children.
I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend.
I love the beach, writing, reading, diet coke, chocolate and my family.

Think it’s easy. Try it!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Real Housewife of Rosemont

I have a confession to make. I watch the Real Housewives series. I mean, I am a bit obsessed with it. And I’m not just talking one or two locations. I really couldn’t tell you which group of women I love to hate the most. New York, New Jersey, Beverly Hills – I watch them all.

I’m not sure why I love them so much. Truthfully, I spend most of the time yelling at the screen. These women disgust me, and I just can’t get enough of them.

I often wonder why they don’t do a Real Housewives of the Main Line. After much thought (okay, not that much thought), I’ve decided it’s because the general public would be bored after one episode. The money is there, but really, how many tennis matches and lunches at the Country Club could you stand to watch.

I’ve contemplated what my life would look like if a camera crew followed me around.

The Real Housewife of Rosemont:

Walk the dogs
Clean the house
Throw in some laundry
Pick up the dry cleaning
Quick stop to Genuardi’s for dinner
Pay the bills
Walk the dogs again
Chauffeur the kids to soccer/swimming/volleyball/religious ed class (depending on the day)
Make dinner
Fold the mountain of clothes that have piled up on the window seat
Help with homework
Fall asleep watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in bed in my flannel pants and sweatshirt

Really, who wouldn’t want to watch that every week?

I could switch it up some days to make it exciting. I do have some life. Those PTO meetings can get rowdy – just bring up lice and watch those moms come to life.

Or maybe they would like to follow me to my father’s doctor’s appointment or my book club meeting.

And there is the occasional luncheon – at Cozi’s. Can’t beat a TBM sandwich and diet coke with the girls.

That’s my reality. I wear denim, not diamonds. I don’t have a chauffeur; I am the chauffeur. I drink diet coke not champagne, and my housekeeper hasn’t shown up in 21 years. (I’ve given up on her!)

I guess that’s why I love the Real Housewives series. It’s not my reality. In fact, I doubt it is even these women’s realities, but it gives us a peak at how “the other half” lives. It gives us an escape from our world, and some days, that’s kind of nice.